Today is a very special day for me. It's my official one year Veganniversary! I want to share with you guys a few personal stories of me being a vegetarian, transitioning over to veganism, and how I feel I've grown over this past year.
As some of you may or may not know, before going vegan last year, I was a vegetarian for literally ever. I was so young when I first started that I don't remember the date. But, it would've been 15 years last year had I not gone vegan. When I was a kid I ate meat, mainly because I never knew any better. I didn't know about the immense amount of suffering animals go through to get to your plate. I remember what occurred the day I said I was going vegetarian, and from that day forward I never looked back. We were in health class watching a movie on food born illnesses. The used an example of some guy that got either e.coli or salmonella, and they acted out his symptoms and explained in great detail what those symptoms were. I was so grossed out because I never even heard of these awful things and I was like ew! Then, just when I thought the video couldn't get worse, it did. After that segment ended, they showed a video on how meat gets tainted. The image of what I saw was forever seared in my mind. It was a slaughterhouse, and they showed a cow, slit from it's belly up, hanging upside down, bleeding, urine and feces all over the place, and them taking the bladder and intestines being shoved into a machine, still full of urine and feces. I was blown away. I had tears in my eyes that I was trying to hold back because I was at school. To think that poor cow was just gutted, and hung up there like it meant nothing. I couldn't handle it. Then, to see that so little care goes into the process of making meat, I was done. I refused to be part of the problem any longer.
At that time, I was still so young that I didn't fully understand what it meant to be a vegetarian. I did my best, but for the first 2-3 years, I was a mess. I didn't understand that it was deeper than just not eating flesh. The one thing I always knew was that eating poultry and seafood ARE NOT vegetarian. That was always a question I got, and it always annoyed me because they are all animals! It was a learning experience for me because there was so much more, so many more ingredients, like gelatin and tallow, that I had to learn about. I just kept doing research. Did you know anchovies are in Caesar dressing? Or that certain cheeses (like Parmesan for example) contain animal rennet? The more I learned, the more strict my diet got. No cross contamination. No eggs. Year after year, I eliminated more things and that list grew until all I was eating that wasn't vegan was butter, cheese, and honey. I don't do anything half assed. I took being a vegetarian seriously, and it was a point of pride for me. That was always one of the first things I told people because of how proud I was of myself. I was always happy to share information with others hoping I could help them see how amazing it is for yourself and for the animals! Even still, I wanted to be a vegan. But how could I give up cheese?! Cheese is life!
I had tried before back in 2011 to be vegan, but there was SO FEW vegan foods back then and it was so difficult I only did it for about two weeks and gave up. I thought I would die without cheese. I felt like I might. Plus, I was very uneducated about the vegan lifestyle. Like a lot of vegetarians, if you don't do the research, you don't see what's wrong with eating dairy and eating honey because it's not eating the animal, and no animal is getting hurt. Not even close. I know all the ingredients vegetarians can't eat and could read the ingredients in a second and spot right away some non-vegetarian ingredient. I was a pro! I knew I was helping animals, and I thought I was doing enough. But, even after all these years of being a vegetarian and all the knowledge I gained, I was still so uneducated about the cruelty aspect of it, and so unaware that the dairy industry is part of the problem. The reason why is because I cannot watch or hear or read stories of animals being hurt. I feel like my entire soul is being crushed and just like that image of that poor cow from way back when, those images stick with me forever. I cry about them. I still cry about that cow! I feel physically feel their pain, and feel all those awful emotions that they feel. It affects me mind body and soul. I recently discovered why I am the way I am when it comes to my feelings on animals, amongst many other traits. I'm something called an empath . That discussion is a story for another time. An empath is an individual that is highly sensitive and fine tuned to emotions. We feel everything, good bad indifferent, to an extreme. It sounds crazy and like it's not a real thing, but it is. Once I learned this, it all made sense. I was literally born to be a vegan. I just didn't know it until late in my 20s.
In the beginning of 2014, I started doing some more research on the vegan diet. The health benefits of it. I have IBS, and I read a lot of people saying that cutting cheese out of their diet helped their IBS symptoms. I was taught my entire life that cheese "binds you up" so I always ate it. Could it be that my favorite food, something I ate every single day, could be actually hindering my IBS verses helping it? I was intrigued. So, for Lent 2014, I went vegan. Once again, I was like, but cheese?! When I tell you NO ONE loved cheese as much as I did, I mean that. Breakfast lunch dinner. Cheesecake, grilled cheese, baked potato with cheese, cheese and crackers, cheese and more cheese. I'm going to tell you something you may not believe, but it's 100% true because I'm proof of it. Cheese is a real addiction. You actually physically go through cheese withdrawal. I had headaches, and I was nothing short of a damn grump! How is this possible you ask? Because cheese contains casein, that when that gets digested and broken down in your body, creates an opiate compound like morphine! So your body creates all these feel good hormones and you literally get addicted. For a solid three weeks, this went on and on. It was hell. 21 days of pure hell. A miracle happened after those three weeks, that craving was gone. I saw cheese and was like eh. Even more amazing, I was so caught up in my cheese withdrawal that I didn't even take the time to notice that my IBS was so much better than it has been in years! I'm talking YEARS! My eyes were open. I couldn't believe it! I went all of Lent feeling pretty damn good from that point on. I knew physically I felt better, but it was time for me to do the research I didn't want to know but knew I had to. I had to find out about the cruelty of dairy and honey. It didn't take long for me to be in tears, appalled by what I learn. Calves being ripped from their mothers side minutes after birth so farmers could take her milk for us to drink. Milk isn't for humans. Milk is for baby cows. I'm not going to get into any more detail, but I promise you, it's bad. Do yourself a favor, and read the book Skinny Bitch. If you finish that with a dry eye after hearing those stories, you have no soul. Simple as that.
I knew that making this decision to be vegan was going to be life changing, and it was going to be permanent. And like I said, go big or go home. Go vegan stay vegan. But before I fully committed to this lifestyle, I had to find out, for my own knowledge, and so I could tell other people suffering with IBS if cheese actually makes it worse. So, I tried a piece of eggplant and cheese pizza. A) I couldn't even really finish it because I was so grossed out. B) With the little I ate, my belly was a disaster. Then, a few days later, I forced myself to eat a cheese and mustard sandwich. I wanted proof, not just a fluke. And, low and behold, the belly went crazy again. The next day, 6/30/15, I woke up with a renewed look on life. I officially went vegan, and here I am, a year later, better than I ever was.
So what have I learned being a vegan? I've learned that living this compassionate life is beautiful. Knowing that I'm part of the solution and not the problem makes my heart feel amazing. Do you know that cows cry going to the slaughterhouse? Physically cry like a person. Tears, noises, sobbing. They know that their life is about to end, and there's no one there to save them. How someone can know that and feel okay eating that burger is something I'll never understand. It's knowing stuff like that that brings happy tears to my eyes when I see rescued animals at farm sanctuaries living their beauty life, never having to worry about being someone's dinner. Even now as I type it, I cry because there are SO MANY AMAZING vegans out there playing their part to help these animals. Every vegan plays a part; big and small. Together, we already have elicited a change in the world. More and more, you're seeing vegan menus at places, and fully vegan restaurants and bakeries. From 2011 when I half-assed tried to be vegan, to today, I've noticed huge changes like this. This momentum is continuing, and its truly amazing. This is the best I have ever eaten. My body craves fruit now instead of junk food. I've also learned that Dandies vegan marshmallows are a true gift to the vegan diet, because they're AMAZING! Also, I've learned that shoving my thoughts and my beliefs down people's throats hinders the vegan cause. Me telling you that you're wrong for eating meat will not make you stop eating meat. You need to know why eating meat is detrimental to your health and terrible for animals. I need to be able to inform you of why that is while at the same time not making you feel like I'm better than you. Because I'm not. I am a regular person living a regular life who's educated herself to see through the lies of campaigns like "milk does a body good" because it doesn't. Everyone has the ability to live this life, as I have. I want this beautiful lifestyle for every single one of you because it's so amazingly rewarding and you and the animals benefit from it. It's a win win! I will never push my beliefs on anyone, but if anyone reading this has any questions about the vegan lifestyle, please feel free to contact me. I am more than happy to share what I have learned with you.
I would like to thank those who have read this from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to share my story with you. I would absolutely love to hear yours! Before I go, I would like to share something wonderful that happened to me today. I told my manager that today was my Veganniversary and I wanted to go after work and get some cupcakes from my favorite bakery but I didn't think I would make it by the time I got done, as the bakery is a bit away from me. He went out and surprised me with a box full of cupcakes from my favorite bakery! I was so touched I almost cried. Below are some pictures! Happy Tuesday to you all!